Help save Hawaii's mantas

Posted on February 18, 2009
Written by: Shark Savers
Tags: Manta Ray of Hope Campaign 

Manta rays, like sharks, are part of the ‘Class Chondrichthyes’, the class of fish is known as ‘cartilaginous’ fish because they have skeletons made of cartilage. Mantas have something else in common with sharks: they are in serious danger of disappearing.

Manta enthusiasts in Hawaii are urgently calling for help to protect mantas from looming threats. These threats include buyers interested in obtaining manta parts for Chinese traditional medicine, buyers for large commercial aquariums that want to display mantas, and senseless killings of rays.

Divers who have visited Kona may be familiar with the original Manta Madness night dive, where up to 3 dozen mantas can be seen feeding on plankton attracted by dive lights. In Kona, only 154 manta rays have been identified in a 17-year study. Every one has a name and a personality, and is recognized when it makes an appearance. They have not been found to travel between islands.

Manta populations in Hawaii are small and localized. Reproductive rates of mantas are very low, similar to sharks, so it would be very hard to replace any mantas that were removed from a population.

To protect these gentle giants, manta enthusiasts have introduced HB366 in the Hawaii House of Representatives. The bill must survive numerous committee hearings and cross over to the Senate before a law can be passed. Only 1 out of 10 bills makes it to a general vote, so massive public support is needed all along the way to see that the bills are passed out of all the committee hearings. The perilous position of Hawaii's mantas was underscored when testimony opposing the manta protection bill was received from several persons associated with the commercial aquarium industry.

What can we do?

Submit testimoney in support of the bills. Send testimony to testimony@mantapacific.org and MPRF will ensure your testimony is submitted at each committee hearing. You can also submit testimony directly when the bill is scheduled to be heard by visitingwww.capitol.hawaii.gov, entering the bill number to find its current status, and following the links to submit testimony. If you submit directly, please be aware that you must re-submit your testimony for each committee hearing.

You can also sign a petition showing your support for the protection of manta rays atwww.mantapacific.org